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Oh, Victoria’s Secret. You Crack Me Up.

Remember last week when I applied for (and got) a Victoria’s Secret credit card? Well, it came in the mail on Tuesday. (And I paid off the balance, in case you’re wondering. Oh, and the bra worked out, too.)

Victoria's Secret Angel Card

When I called to activate the card, I had to listen to this long spiel about some kind of protection program that will pay off my balance if I get attacked by wolverines or get fired for blogging on the job. And it only costs $1.99 for every $100 charged to the card! I’m like, “No, I’m not interested,” which means the poor girl had to read the whole script AGAIN since I obviously didn’t understand what I was turning down. The second time I’m like, “I’m not going to carry a balance anyway,” which was a mistake because then she got all excited and told me I wouldn’t have to pay the $1.99 if I didn’t have a balance. And started reading the script a third time.

Finally, I interrupted her and said, “Look, if I have to go through all this to activate the card, I changed my mind. I don’t want to activate it.” Apparently that’s the magic phrase because she shut up and told me my card is now active. I logged into my account, paid off my balance, and now the card is put away in the place where unused credit cards go to gather dust.

For kicks, I decided to look at all the crap that came with the card. And I’m both disgusted and impressed by the marketing techniques VS (I first typed BS, ha!) uses to make sure you use your Angel card.

1. Monthly coupons for cardholders only. 

Victoria's Secret coupon

For the month of September, I can get a FREE hiphugger or thong panty. All I have to do is use my VS card to buy something else! However, if I use the coupon online, I’m limited to the gross boring colors – white, beige, or black. Because they want me in the store, where I’ll see the cute colors and want them instead, plus the matching accessories and OMG this perfume smells awesome! Yeah, I see what they’re doing there. And there’s a coupon for every month, all of which offer a similar “deal.”

2. Rewards.

Victoria's Secret card rewards

I get 12 reward points for every dollar I charge on my card! And if I save up 1250 of them (meaning I’ve charged about $105), I can get a FREE gift from the satin series in the reward store! What does THAT get me?

Random stuff that I don’t really need. Like a teeny little sample size perfume. And a “cosmetic bag” that probably holds the sample size perfume. Sure, I’ll take it if I ever earn it (I have 935 points right now per the website) but do people really buy stuff just to earn a dinky little something for free? You bet they do! Oh, P.S. You have to redeem your reward points within 60 days or you lose them. OMG I better buy a bunch of stuff before I lose my points!!! (kidding)

3. The “VIP Upgrade”

Victoria's Secret VIP upgrade

After I charge $250 on my VS card, I’ll be magically upgraded to the Angel VIP card. It’s sleek and black instead of girly pink, it’s “even more exclusive” (whatever that means) and I get DOUBLE POINTS FOR A WHOLE MONTH!

4. The Less Emphasized Details

Shoved in the envelope behind all the pretty glam market crap was a yucky white paper with all the details about the VS card. Which I’m sure most people throw away.

24.99% APR for purchases. Ho. Lee. Crap.

$35 late payment fee. Gee, would you like my firstborn child as well? A limb, maybe? I’ll just pay on time, thanks.

So what does all this teach us, kids?

In my former life, I would have been SO flattered to receive such an amazing offer. And I know how dumb that sounds, but I totally bought into messages like “Let the indulgence begin” (inside the pamphlet) and words like free and exclusive. As I said when I applied for the card, I’m not a huge underwear shopper, but I probably would have become one if this had happened a few years ago.

These days, I don’t need a bunch of underwear or card-related perks to make me feel special. I’m pretty darn cool on my own. Sometimes anyway.

When we attach our self-worth to the stuff we own, debt is second nature.

You can be a fun, amazing person without spending a dime. The sooner you figure that out, the sooner you can get over your debt and move on. If you need to belong to an “exclusive” club, I’ll make you a So Over Debt VIP card. Every time you DON’T buy anything, you get the satisfaction of knowing you didn’t buy into the hype.

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web designer and single mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!

Comments

  1. I love trying to find a way to shut credit card reps up. Often times it is similar to your method you described above. Nowadays, I just interrupt them on the first time, telling them that I don't want to pay for any extra service. :)

    • I always feel like they're going to get fired for not signing up enough customers. Then I realize that most people probably think it's a great idea to pay $1.99/month for a service with more red tape than the DMV. Being a credit card rep has to be one of the worst jobs imaginable.

      • I have friends who have gotten fired just because they didn't keep up their quota of store credit card applications. It's like retail makes so much money from the cards they don't even care about selling clothes anymore.

  2. It's pretty much standard that you're going to get that spiel.  Used to be, you called to activate your card, punched in a few things and were on with the rest of your day.  In fact it was one of the few times that having an automated system handle everything was actually beneficial.  Now, as soon as I enter in the information and hear the dreaded "transferring you to the next available agent" I just sigh because I know exactly what's coming.  And, yes, you have to say no at least twice.  I keep my patience because I realize the people on the other end are probably not making very much money and probably hate having to do what they do anyways.

    • Chellesinmke says:

      I just read that you actually don't even NEED to call to activate a card, that when you receive them in the mail they are already active!

  3. Oh dear…Please, please, pleeeeease be careful with the company that handles these accounts (it's not VS directly)! I had a horrendous experience that necessitated the closing of my account. I've never been more discouraged with a credit card company before.

    Long story short, they credited my payment to another account and didn't send me a statement for almost 3 months, which of course showed all kinds of wild late fees, etc. The kicker was that I had opted in for e-statements but never received an email. Even better was that the statement came while I was out of the country so it sat around in a giant pile of mail for the weeks while I was gone. When I got home and called to sort things out, they claimed to have lost my email address in their system and berated me for not paying my bills?!

    It took 1.5 weeks to get everything straightened out and I promptly closed the account after dealing with the 590th rude customer service rep that explained "when people don't pay their bills, they incur late fees-this isn't a charity, it's a business" even after I confirmed that they'd received the fax from my bank clearly showing the money pulled out of my account 17 days before it was due!!

    It's sad because I did love that card for all of the little perks (they send you a free $10-20 gift card every year for your birthday).   

    Sorry for the rant; my blood boils a bit every time I think about this experience!

  4. I think your last line is so important and hits the nail on the head: When we attach our self-worth to the stuff we own, debt is second nature.  This really is the issue. I can relate to this too because I grew up with parents who very much associated what they owned with their worth. I have learned this lesson the hard way, but it was worth it. I now know that I am who I am regardless of what I own and that great people recognize that. I don't need fancy stuff to have and keep friends. 

  5. Wow, that's pretty crappy they make you go through a spiel like that just to activate a card that gives you a bunch of perks you don't need anyway.  And you have to redeem your rewards in 2 months?  That's really crappy!  What a rip-off.

  6. You're right, you are pretty darn cool. I was going to write you don't need no stinkin' underwear to be cool, but then realized that you probably need non-stinky underwear to be cool no matter what.

    And I love this, "When we attach our self-worth to the stuff we own, debt is second nature."

  7. There is no such thing as a free lunch! Companies do not give all this away without expecting an eventual profit.  So watch out! 

  8. I will say she has a point when she says "if you're going to pay it off monthly you might as well have the protection" because if I know you – being eaten by wolverines would be the only reason you carry a balance on a 25% credit card. 
    FYI, the only reason I stumbled upon this post was because I was googling pictures of supersoft hiphugger thongs and up pops your site. (not the only thing that popped up – AYO! – kidding)

    • But if I'm eaten by wolverines, I don't need to pay off my card! So it's fine. I'm more concerned about being partially eaten by a wolverine. Because if I'm not dead, that $1.99 will just accumulate forever and I'll owe a million dollars on underwear when I come out of my coma.

  9. I have a few store credit cards.  I'll admit, having them makes me more likely to shop at those stores.  But I don't go to the stores unless there's a sale.  And I usually bring a coupon (that they sent me).  I realize that when they send me good coupons (hello Kohl's 30% off coupon) I tend to go a little nuts.  I bought a million sweaters (then returned half) with a 30% off coupon.  Also bought myself a KitchenAid stand mixer when there was a sale and a 30% off coupon.  And Kohls cash thrown in.  Yeah, they're good at getting me to spend.

    I think your VS card is like my Ann Taylor Loft card.  I don't think I've actually ever spent enough to get any "free" items.  I use it for the coupons/discounts I get with it.

  10. I would love to have a So Over Debt VIP card!!! lol but seriously this is why I don't even bother to get a store credit card. I like to think I'm a pretty disciplined person when it comes to my finances, but I am a girl after all and I still get the shopping bug/urge/obsession. So, I "just say no" to store cards.

    Every time I check out at Old Navy "would you like to save 10% and apply for an Old Navy Card?" yes I would love to save 10% but no I shop here way too much and I'm afraid I'll get sucked in.

    Kuddos to you for being disciplined enough with the VS (lol BS) card. Both of my sisters (and stepmom) have Victoria's Secret cards and they looove them. Quite an impressive marketing scheme for sure. 

  11. I think it is ridiculous how complicated credit cards are.  Too bad there isn't one that gives you a straight up 5% off everything you buy.  I swear I would put everything on that card and pay it off every month.  Credit cards are just not worth it.  I used to love my Best Buy card because I could buy things and pay them off over 6-24 months and pay no interest.  It was all good until one transaction I made did not get put on a "payment" plan and started charging interest.  I figured, "No problem!" I would just simply pay off that charge and I wouldn't have to worry about the interest.  I called customer service and they stated any payments I make would be first applied to the payment plans and then to the non payment plan transaction.  What?!!!  "You mean to tell me I have to pay off $2800.00 of non-interest charging transactions before I can pay off the $100.00 transaction that is charging me interest?"  Their answer…. Yup.  I said, no thank you and could you please close my account? "but sir, you are only being charged $4.00 in interest a month."  I said, "yes and that is costing me a venti Starbucks every month.  I would rather drink that than treat the CEO of your credit card company to Starbucks every month…thanks but no thanks, please close my account"  I really don't think she understood what I was saying.  Some people!  Only $4.00?  I should have told her to pay it for me out of her salary and maybe then she would have gotten it…I doubt it!

    Martilyo! 

  12. The VS card is great if you're only buying stuff you would've bought anyway, and you're using the card responsibly. In fact, the whole "credit" system is great if you're following these rules. Don't like the APR? Don't keep a balance! Problem solved!

    If you can't be responsible with any type of credit or charge card, you shouldn't have one. No need to insult the companies and their marketing. Victoria's Secret bottom line is their priority, and YOUR priority should be yours.

  13. I'm new to your blog, but I really like this post because I see this kind of marketing EVERYWHERE. It's really genius of the company and back when I was in high school, it would have totally worked for me. Now that my frugal muscle has been exercised, I see these things and am completely disgusted that they work!

  14. I had originally looked in to grabbing a VS card just when me and my friends were buying bathing suits for out spring break trip but after reading a bit I figured it wasn't really worth it. Your article really proved that it was a good call. Geez it amazes me that companies can get away with such high interest rates, additional charges. Oh and wow the bonuses are truly terrible. Great post!

  15. Wow, you are very right about all the marketing strategies they cook up, especially the ones that say that you can get a free piece of something… if you splash out more money than its worth and getting swindled.
    But I do have a question about the credit card. I've recently been thinking of getting one myself, but was wondering if I got one and didnt use it for months upon months, would I get charged just for getting one or would I have to pay some sort of fee?

  16. Ughhh. I just opened a store-brand credit card (the store shall remain nameless). It's the first one I've ever owned, and the experience drove me nuts.

    First of all, I'm extra paranoid about paying the bill late, so I tried and tried and tried and tried to pay the $%&*^#@ bill. But every time I called the card issuer, I was told that I needed to wait for my statement before I could pay the bill. I was like, "why can't I just pay it now?" And they were like, "sorry, you have to wait."

    So I waited for my statement to show up in the mail, and it never came. I kept calling them, and they kept just telling me to wait. And finally I checked my spam folder, where I saw an email that said "thank you for opting into paperless statements." (I have zero recollection of opting into this). That email included the paperless statement, which – by coincidence – told me that the bill was due in 24 hours!!

    I paid the bill on time, but barely. It was a close call. And it was bad first experience with a store-brand credit card. What a headache.

  17. Yikes, I am glad you shut her up. How much of our day is spent on mindless distractions and annoyances. Just too much for my way of thinking. I try to keep it simple with only two cards and even they are a pain in the butt.

  18. Brigette Corbett says:

    I’m 19 and not always the brightest crayon in the box. So, back in December, I found Victoria’s Secret Bombshell scent that I LOVE. They offered me the credit card and I thought it over and signed up for it. I was thinking that maybe I could build some kind of credit up. Ha. Just a few days before the due date, I used my debit card to pay off the balance. About a week or so (maybe later) I get an email or bill telling me that my payment was denied. Not only did I owe a $25 returned payment fee, but I also owed a $35 late fee. So that $25 worth of lotion just hit $85. Incensed, I refused to pay anything else. Now, I have a baby on the way and it horrifies me to think about, if I refuse to pay for another five years, how bad it would be. Victoria’s Secret reps are difficult to deal with as well. As you said, they’re so caught up in squeezing more money out of you that they don’t listen to your complaints. It’s “Oh, you need my help? Well, how ’bout we set you up with this new plan, an extra $10 a month?” Blah blah blah. Once this is over, I’m chopping the Angel card up and dancing around its ashes.

  19. StephanieM says:

    I think it is time to erase this blog!!
    Since then, they have very much changed their way of doing things, offer better free items (over night bags, totes, beach bags, towels, umbrellas, perfumes and more). Their reward system is much different.

    Despite all of your negative items- you forgot to mention that they have great customer service. (funny how that is not mentioned)
    I have called numerous times and everyone I talk with (both at comenity and VS are great)

    Like I stated above- this should be erased because you are giving people the wrong idea of how it really is=

    • Stephanie…do you think it’s possible that they changed their policies because blogs like mine complained? Chatter on the net is a powerful way to change others mindsets. I sincerely hope they have improved, but that doesn’t mean you take down all the negative articles… if you don’t remind people of the past, they are doomed to repeat it!

  20. Jennysis says:

    Do you have to make purchases every month or year to avoid a fee ?

  21. I wish I could of read your blog now. I was activating my card today and your experience was the same with mine. I was on the way to the mall and somehow my phone kept cutting off and she kept talking over me saying I’m getting this protection fee on my card for an extra 1.99 and then another protection fee for 14.99 monthly . Wow now I regret it and want it removed . She didn’t let me talk and she talked all over me. I’m scared to cancel those fees now. But your blog just motivated me so thank you!

  22. I just want to add my share about my terrible experience with Victoria Secret card, I’m glad I looked up with matter on the internet and has found many people to have the same problem like me, because their customer service employee from Victoria Secret Credit Card and from Comenity Bank tried to make it seems ridiculous on my part that they never see this happen before. LIE! In fact my experience DOES happen to a lot of people, including my mom.

    So I signed up for VS Angel Card for 6 months already, and made purchases with it, but I also return some of my items of the purchases. For the 6 months period, I DID NOT receive any bill or account statement whatsoever! Not even one! Just the card the the offer book in the mail once, and that’s all. So I was concerned and called them to ask about it. They said since I return the merchandise, it is automatically counted as a payment, that’s why I do not need to worry about paying that month statement. The next month comes, still NO bill, I called, same answer. And I also make it clear to them that MAKE SURE to send me the bill. Because I do not want the same thing that happen to my mom to happen to me, which she signed up for a VS card 2 years ago and NEVER receive the card or the bill, but she forgot that she opened once since she didn’t want to at the moment but the sale associate was very pushy. And her BANK account got closed because all of the late fees build up, which she wasn’t aware of because they NEVER send anything to her. (Now, after everything happened I also find it was weird even though there is no payment dues, aren’t they still required to send me my account statement???)
    I know it’s long and complicated, but bare with me. So after getting the same answer every time I called in trying to find out why I wasn’t billed, I stopped calling, because I told them to make sure to send me the bill, and they reassure me that it is in their system, blahblahblah…. A few days ago I got a call from Comenity Bank, harassing me to pay my bill because it was past due 3 months. I told the guy from Comenity my situation and that they are the one who is responsible for not sending me mail which was required by law. He was very aggressive keep insisting that they do everything right on their part, and that he never heard of anyone having this situation, and that there is nothing I can do except for paying to balance with late fee and interest charges, because according to him, “things happen.”

    RIDICULOUS?!
    Why would I pay for all of that charges when it wasn’t my fault! It’s their responsibility to send the bill which is required by law. He keeps saying that it shows on the system that the statement is sent out monthly blahblhablha, easy for you to say anything, how can I see the proof then? Anyway, I got fed up talking to him because it wasn’t going anywhere.
    So I look up online to see if this happens to other people, and yup, it does happen to a lot of people actually!
    So I called VS directly, told them my story, again, the girl changed her tone instantly when I bring up this matter. Got all aggressive and rude, insisting she works there for 8 years and never heard of this situation, I insist saying I DIDN’T do anything wrong therefore those charges were unfair and also told her that this does happen to a lot of people from their experiences on the internet. She paused for a moment, didn’t know how to reply to that, put me on hold to talk to her supervisor, and came back to tell me that all my charges has been dropped, and that my statement is going out today. SO PLEASE, IF THIS HAPPENS TO YOU, STAND ON YOUR GROUND AND DO SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE, THE MORE OF STORIES LIKE THIS, THE HARDER FOR THEM TO DENY THEIR UNETHICAL AND COMMITTING FRAUD BUSINESS PRACTICE! Just because they are a big company doesn’t mean they can bully consumers like this! Stand up for yourself!

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